Prof. Dr. K. A. Habib

An open letter to the anti-war movement in Germany

An Iraqi economist, now living in Berlin, has critisised the anti-war movement in Germany. In an open letter, Kadhim Habib points to the fact that the movement's ongoing protest against United States policy comes at the expense of any criticism of the Iraqi regime. In his letter he undertakes a detailed analysis of the many actors involved in the conflict and what their interests might be.

An open letter to the peace movement in Germany

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, on behalf of myself and many Iraqis, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for your dedication in the struggle to prevent a preemptive war by the USA and Great Britain against Iraq. The demonstrations that took place in Germany, in Europe and around the world both before and after February 14, 2003, were and are an important signal that war is not an acceptable means of solving problems and conflicts.

Lately I have participated in many demonstrations and events and had conversations and discussions with leading personalities within the peace movement. Many of those active in the peace movement concur with me and other Iraqis that there is a close and inseparable connection between peace, democracy and human rights. That is to say, when protesting against a war in a country ruled by a dictator, it is necessary to condemn the despotic regime and express solidarity with the inhabitants of the country. It is necessary to fight for their freedom, democracy and human rights. However, I have noticed that particularly during these demonstrations themselves, most of the peace activists and many leftist groups call exclusively for peace, rejecting any signs or statements condemning the despotic regime in Iraq. Not a single word of condemnation is spoken of the despot Saddam Hussein, who has been responsible for the deaths of more than two million people in the past twenty years, and has driven another 3.5 million to flee Iraq. Some even view the Iraqi regime as anti-imperialist, forgetting the wars that this regime has itself waged, and forgetting the destruction of hundreds of thousands of opposition leaders and sympathizers – be they Arabs, Kurds, Kurdi-Faili, Assyrians, Chaldeans or Turkmens. They also forget that it is the fault of the Iraqi regime that American and British troupes have occupied and taken control of the Gulf region. For this reason, I have chosen to write an open letter to all peace-loving inhabitants of Germany, in order to express my opinion – which is shared by many Iraqis – on two matters of discussion.

I.
Shortly after the terrible crimes of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration decided to wage war against Iraq. Since that time, preparations have been underway in the USA and Great Britain to prepare and mobilize a fighting force. This war is a component of the new political, economical and military strategy of the USA in the 21st century. To date, it seems to me that the US administration is interested in just one thing, namely war. Why is the US administration determined to wage this war, regardless of the cost? My observations and analysis have led me to conclude that the USA is pursuing the following goals:

  1. They are attempting to establish embargos and war as legitimate means for pursuing hegemony in their global policy and the establishment of a new world order. The USA hopes to stylize this war as a precedent for actions against other countries, grounded e.g. in the so-called "Axis of Evil".
  2. Their new, modified strategy is to carry out a pre-emptive, “preventive” war. They want to be free do as they please in the world, and want to limit or make irrelevant the role of the UN and the security council.
  3. Control of the entire Persian Gulf region and the Middle East, with the freedom to dictate policy.
  4. The occupation of Iraq will go on for years, because of Iraq’s important geo-strategical location. Due to its secular character and open society, Iraq is a better target for the Middle East strategy of the USA than theocratic Saudi Arabia.
  5. Total control over oil fields, oil extraction, distribution and prices; elimination of OPEC.
  6. Monopolization of weapons exports and elimination of all competition in the Middle East.
  7. The war is an excellent opportunity to test the latest generation of newly developed weapons.
  8. For some time now, the oil monopolies and the American government have been looking for ways to end their dependence on Saudi Arabian oil, but without having to do without it. Saudi Arabia owns more than 21% of the world’s total oil supply. Iraq’s oil is meant to play an important role. It is already known that Iraq owns 11% of the world’s total oil supply. And American media have reported that Saudi Arabia provides financial support to Islamic terrorists throughout the world. Since the 1980s, in cooperation with the USA and Pakistan, terrorists have received various kinds of support.

Millions of people are against a war in Iraq because they know full well that war does not solve problems. War complicates existing problems and creates new ones. War can never be a means for solving political, economical, ethnic or religious problems. Furthermore, overthrowing the Iraqi regime should be the exclusive task of the Iraqi people and the country’s political opposition.

  1. War would bring extensive destruction to the entire economy, industry and infrastructure of Iraq. The consequences for the population would be even more catastrophic. The bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Vietnam, Iraq during the 1991 Gulf war, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan provide examples.
  2. War endanger the achievements of the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, and could cause their status to revert to the level of that of the Kurds in Turkey and in Iran. The probability of the use of chemical and biological weapons by the regime against its own people, as well as the possible use of outlawed weapons by the USA, cannot be ruled out.
  3. War would weaken the joint international anti-terrorism effort. War would encourage fundamentalism and foment international terrorism. However, it must also be said that war itself is terrorism or the worst kind against the population.
  4. War might also facilitate an invasion of Northern Iraq by the Turkish military, in an effort to realize its former policy of expansion. This would mean new problems for the Iraqi people as well as for the Kurdish population in Iraq.
  5. Such a war would also create fertile new ground for terrorists and a new source of fundamentalism.

I am on the side of the children, women and men of Iraq, as well as millions of people all over the world who are fighting for the following goals:

  1. The UN inspectors should be given more and sufficient time to continue their search for weapons of mass destruction.
  2. In solving this matter, unilateral action by the USA must be avoided. Only the Security Council of the United Nations can and must solve this problem peacefully, by
    - doing away with weapons of mass destruction,
    - lifting the embargo,
    - and establishing democracy and human rights.
  3. Promotion of the implementation of UN Resolution No. 688 of 1991, concerning the cessation of terror and the establishment of human rights in Iraq.
  4. Providing comprehensive support to the Iraqi anti-war opposition in their just battle for a federative, democratic Iraq based on the principles of modern, civil, democratic society.
  5. Calling for an international conference on Iraq under the auspices of the United Nations and with the participation of the Iraqi democratic opposition, in order to replace the despotic regime peacefully and create truly democratic conditions, thus avoiding the danger of a civil war.II.
    Millions of Iraqis expect the solidarity of the peace movement in their fight against the despotic regime in Iraq.

    As you know, the Arabian-Socialist Baath party came to power for the second time in the year 1968, and has remained in power to this day. Between 1968 and 1990 the regime carried out conflicting policies. On the one hand, it is despotic and cruel in its domestic policies, which show no respect for human rights. In its economic foreign policy, on the other hand, the regime opened itself to both the East and the West. The regime had three goals:

    1. Through its terrorist domestic policies, the regime attempted to exterminate the opposition parties and eliminate independent thinkers from the political stage.
    2. To conceal its cruel and despotic domestic policies and buy silence if not complacency from both East and West.
    3. To build up an arsenal of weapons.

    Today, the Iraqi regime is a government without regard for human rights, soiled with the blood of millions. It can be said unconditionally that all basic human rights, both political and civil, contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are negated in Iraq. The Iraqi people are routinely deprived not only of basic freedoms, but also their rights to life, liberty, dignity and security. At every moment of their lives, people are at the mercy of the regime and its executioners. As a result of its terrorist domestic policies, more than 200,000 people were jailed between 1972 and 1990. They were members and sympathizers of the communist, democratic, patriotic, nationalist and religious parties, as well as members of minorities. Many of them were put to death. At the same time, there were campaigns against primarily Shiite Arabs in Central and Southern Iraq and against the Faili Kurds, resulting in the deportation of more than 500,000 people to Iran.

    In the year 1975, with the support of the USA, the regime signed a treaty with the Shah of Iran. As a result, the Iranian side ended its support of Kurds in the northern region of the country. This made it possible to defeat the armed Kurdish Liberation Movement. Ten thousand Kurds (men, women and children) fled to Iran. Those Kurds who remained behind were forced to surrender and submit their weapons to the Iraqi government. Many of them were killed or incarcerated.

    In the year 1988 the regime led an eight-month-long military action against the Kurdish people and national minorities in Iraqi Kurdistan. Here, too, chemical weapons were used. More than 5000 died, and many were injured. Also during this operation, more than 182,000 others were kidnapped. Already mass graves have been discovered at various locations in Iraqi Kurdistan. Also, 8,000 members of the Barazani tribe were kidnapped and killed. Altogether, 4,250 villages were wiped out -- flattened -- in Kurdistan.

    Making matters worse, the power elite was in no way rational and just in its handling of the economy. Its policies are based on the production and import of traditional weapons rather than food and medical supplies for its people.

    The government sells large quantities of oil on the black market, spending the proceeds for arms, the construction of new palaces and mosques, and for the elite and its security apparatus. Due to these policies and the embargo, some 70% of the available work force in Iraq is currently unemployed. Wages and income of many families are so low that the only earn enough to support their families for a period of ten to fifteen days. Some families are even forced to send their children out of the house to earn money on the streets. These children hardly have time for school.

    Many families illegally sell their bodily organs to hospitals in order to buy food and medication. Several families have even sold their children, not only because they needed the money to survive, but also in the hope that their children will have a better chance in life elsewhere.

    The adamancy of the USA in continuing the embargo also resulted in chronic and serious infractions on human rights. If one follows the UN reports, one can see that since 1991, more than 600,000 children have died in Iraq as a direct result of the embargo. Many older or ill women and men have died due to lack of food, medication, medical equipment and proper health care. And there are today approximately one million children and many old and ill people who are already doomed to die. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the death of 5000 children per month as a direct result of the embargo alone was a bearable price to pay for keeping the embargo in place.

    The "Oil for food" program provides only the most basic essentials, and only for a limited time of 15 days each month. The rest of the time, people must buy food themselves on the marketplace, at exorbitant prices. Suffice it to say that the situation for the population of Iraq is unbearable, and growing dramatically worse.

    In the year 1979 Saddam Hussein assumed sole power over the country. At the outset he carried out a bloody massacre of many of his party colleagues and members of the leadership, but also of communists and Islamists. In the year 1980 Saddam Hussein started a new war against the Mullah regime in Iran. During this eight-year war, the regime acquired modern weapons as well as logistical, material and political support from many countries, primarily from the USA. This war killed approximately one million people, and wounded and maimed many more. The armaments industries of many weapons-exporting countries raked in profits from both sides, i.e. from Iraq and Iran, totaling billions. (...) During this time the regime spent more than 253 billion US dollars for military purposes. Subsequently, it began carrying out its aggressive foreign policy.

    On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. He received indirect encouragement to do so from the US ambassador in Baghdad, Mrs. April Glaspie. Shortly thereafter, on August 6, 1990, the Security Council instituted the embargo against Iraq by passing Resolution Nr. 661. The stage was set for the second Gulf War.

    The second Gulf War began on January 16, 1991, and lasted just 42 days. The cost to Iraq was more than 110,000 dead soldiers, more than 15,000 dead civilians, 35,000 killed in the crushed rebellion of 1991 against the regime, the destruction of thousands of homes and schools, more than 100,000 homeless and several hundred billion US dollars. In the war, the USA demonstrated the latest traditional weapons, including bullets enriched with uranium (D.U., depleted uranium, waste product of the uranium industry). The US army dropped more than 227,165 bombs and rockets of various kids on the cities and villages of Iraq. Seven hundred oil wells were set afire in the war. As a result of the use of these weapons, birth defects increased and new, unknown diseases occurred, especially in southern Iraq. The war also created an unimaginable environmental catastrophe in Iraq.

    A majority of the population hates the despotic regime, which is isolated from the people. Saddam Hussein has only managed to retain power for so long due to

    1. the on-going military emergency in which the country finds itself,
    2. the existence of five different secret police agencies that monitor the population constantly, and the support of the Baath Party, the unions and other huge organizations loyal to the regime,
    3. the protection of the Palace Guard and Saddam’s elite guard,
    4. the protection of army divisions stationed in Baghdad,
    5. the use of various methods of suppression and torture. I am referring to people being humiliated, tortured until death and driven into exile. And finally
    6. through his authority, for there are no laws in Iraq,
    7. through the support of other Arab countries for the despotic regime,
    8. through the weakness of the opposition, a result of decades of the regime’s brutal policies.
      (…) Finally, I would like to express my hope that the peace movement in Germany and in the entire world will reestablish the connection between peace, democracy and human rights, for without peace there can be no democracy, nor human rights, nor justice. But without democracy and human rights, there can also be no lasting peace. Sincerely,

      Kadhim A. Habib
      Berlin, March 7, 2003

      Translation: Mark Rossman

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